Doniford bay yields some superb ‘white-ammonites’ which can be found in the rocks on the foreshore. There is also a number of brachiopods and bivalves also well preserved.
♦ The Doniford Bay access car park can easily be missed. From Watchet, follow the road out of town towards Quantoxhead, just before the junction onto the main road, a VERY small road cutting in the bushes can be seen. This is the car park to Doniford Bay and a path leads directly onto the beach. Grid Ref. ST076 434
♦ Ref: 51.17991°N, 3.30857°W
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦ – Doniford can be very productive but the best time to collect is during scouring conditions along the foreshore.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦♦ – Doniford is suitable for family trips.
ACCESS: ♦♦ – A car park at Doniford Bay takes you directly onto the beach, the problem is that the car park is very hard to find and is hidden behind some bushes. You are likely to pass by without evening noticing it.
TYPE: – Doniford is a foreshore location, The vast majority of fossils are found in the rocks and shale on the foreshore, or exposed during scouring tides.
A wide variety of Ammonites can be found at Doniford Bay. The most common are the Arnioceras Ammonites, these are fairly small ammonites packed into the Doniford Shale. Other Ammonites can be found at low tide, north of the line showing the Watchet fault. Ammonites of Psiloceras can be found and are very well preserved. There are a range of other Ammonites found collecting from round the point of Doniford Bay, but they are less common here. Many shells also can be collected. Look for blocks around the beach, they can clearly be noted as Ammonites are clearly visible. The Rock is fairly easy to split and if you break one Ammonite there are usually many more in the same block. Some of these Ammonites are distorted. The Blocks can be found from near the blocks of stone build to protect the cliff from the sea. They are in a horizontal layer on the foreshore. Blocks packed with ‘White Ammonites’ can also be found on the foreshore. These have so many Ammonites, positioned in various ways that many will split incorrectly. However because they are so compacted with ammonites, at least some will split in the correct way.
Doniford Bay consists of the Lower Lias, and Triassic beds. The Red and green striped rocks which can be seen on the East of the bay are the Mercia Mudstones. The gray Helwell Marls can be seen to the West. The Jurassic lias at Doniford are the youngest of the lias at Somerset and marks the uppermost beds of the Lower lias. Horizons of the Doniford Shale’s can be located and at low tide, near the Watchet Fault, the Aldergrove beds can be seen. The Pleistocene deposits seen in the photo above are not precisely dated. Many years ago, reports of mammoth and other bones were made, however nothing has been seen for decades. Unfortunately the best exposures have now been covered up by tip cast over the face.
Common sense when collecting at all locations should be taken and knowledge of tide times should always be noted. You can easily be cut off by the tide as the sea always reaches parts of the cliff, Be careful of falling rocks as the cliffs are quite high.
The fossils at Doniford are found on the foreshore. Sometimes this area can be very productive especially during scouring, but often it can bring disappointment with the beds covered up with sand.
This site is an SSSI. This means you can visit the site, but hammering the bedrock is not permitted. For full information about the reasons for the status of the site and restrictions please download the PDF from Natural England – SSSI Information